Saturday, April 8, 2017

REAL LIFE--by Linden Malki

We are blessed to having been born into a beautiful world. Not perfect (by our standards), but with the capacity to be breathtakingly gorgeous, and also the capacity for being scary and rotten and downright ugly.  Very often, however, the ugliness has a connection with the something we human beings have done or not done--often with the best of intentions, but unfortunately, intentions have little to do with actual reality. In fact, we do not do reality well. Left to ourselves, our self is the main priority in our life. Unfortunately (again) we tend to think that our "feelings" are a good guide to what is best; even when there are actual facts that we could find if we looked in the right places, that would take all the fun out of how we "feel."

What we don't want to recognize is something actually true that was said a long time ago, but is no less true for that: "He who would save his own life will lose it, and he who gives up his own life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:24-25) If we live our lives with what we feel like at the moment, or what we think will make us happy as our guide, it often doesn't work as well as we expect.  How often online to we see a online posting that says something like "Remember this celebrity when they were successful and beautiful, and look what they are now!"  We don't always admit we got off track somehow...and even at best the end of our life may not be what we want.

What does it look like to "give up your life for My sake"?  What makes a difference is who is speaking!  There are a lot of things and people out there who make a promise like this, and most of them are dead ends, because they are not any more than any other human being.  Putting our human selves first, even though we may know that there is a Creator who is more than human, and even try to follow His instructions, doesn't get us where we need to be. It is only when we put what we see as our own self-interest as what St Paul calls a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" as our true spiritual worship, that we live up to what we are created to be. Not that we do it perfectly; in fact, we don't really do a very good job of it--but what we do have is the mercy and grace of God, and spiritual strength available when we have the good sense to ask.

Mexicali mission Nov 2016
OK, what does this reality look like?  Moses said it like this: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Deut 6:4-5) and like this: "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus confirned it to a questioning scribe: "So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:32-34)  God has created each of us as an individual. What He will call each of us to do will be our responsibility; our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria, and our world.

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